9-12 Activities

Ideas to try...

Career and Education Development

Write a letter applying for a job in a shipyard or other maritime industry, 150 years ago and today. State your qualifications, skills, how you learned your job, what salary you expect, what benefits, etc.

Study the history of your community and look at how businesses and occupations have changed over the last 150 to 200 years. What technologies have influenced those changes? What occupations that exist today might be superseded in the next 50 years? What businesses have remained throughout the history of the town, and how have they worked with technological changes?

English Language Arts

Some primary source materials—letters, diaries, logbooks—are available at Penobscot Marine Museum and elsewhere. Analyze one of these works, seeing what you can deduce and interpret from it. Write pieces in the style/voice of a 19th century character of your choice. In Letters at Sea, compare the nature of letters written from home with those written from sea.


The subject of medical care and developments in health concepts and attitudes may make an interesting research project, as we are undergoing many changes today. How was medical care carried out in your community before the Civil War? During the early 20th century, when tuberculosis and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919 affected so many people? Visit local cemeteries and look for evidence of epidemics in local areas.


Measurement is critical to maritime industries. Cargo management and shipbuilding require careful measurements: size of hold, size of building materials (scantlings), registered tonnage, and capacities of containers. How were different cargoes packaged, measured, and stowed? Given the capacity of a ship’s hold, calculate what could be stowed. Create diagrams and schematics to demonstrate.

Science and Technology

Research how life in maritime communities changed, first with the advent of regular steamboat service to Boston from the Maine coast, and then the advent of railroads, then automobiles, trucks, and airplanes. How would acceptance of these new technologies influence the nature of community? How did these changes affect the businesses in town, the distribution of their products, and the greater competition from other far-away businesses?


Many Maine sea captains brought back keepsakes and artworks from other cultures, as they sailed around the world. They also brought back experiences in other cultures that could seem strange to a local provincial culture. Discuss the benefits and conflicts of a small cosmopolitan maritime community next to communities that had no first-hand experiences with foreign cultures.

Compare the visual arts of 19th century American maritime culture with those of other cultures of the same period. Analyze a group of maritime paintings, comparing and contrasting artists, including Maine artists.

Study the architecture of old houses and other buildings in maritime communities around Penobscot Bay or on the coast. How do architectural styles reflect the ideals of society or the economics of the community? Study an aspect of domestic life, such as food preparation or clothing construction.